It's funny how things can change in the blink of an eye; one minute I’m in a seedy club bemoaning the cost of a lager and getting more and more annoyed that the artist that I’ve paid a lot of money to see still hasn’t made it on to stage, and the next I’ve had a great night watching probably the best front man rock music has to offer, who has just announced to a packed club that he loves my shirt.
Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra released their first album at the start of June. Two UK dates were scheduled in the UK to promote the album, both at a nightclub called The Box. The pricing for these gigs has been controversial: initially to stand you had to pay £193 a head, or you could have a private booth at £315 per head. Given the uproar on social media, the pricing was changed to £65 per head (including fees) but the booth prices stayed the same. £65 is still a lot of cash to pay to see an artist, but Perry does put on one hell of a show and only plays over here once in a blue moon, so we thought it would probably be worth it.
The club itself used to be the Raymond Revuebar, a theatre and strip club which was once the only venue in London that offered full frontal nudity, and used to refer itself as ‘The World Centre of Erotic Entertainment’. The Raymond Revuebar closed down in 2004 and after a couple of changes of ownership became the Box in 2011. In its current iteration the Box has been referred to as ‘Britain’s seediest VIP club’ with sexually explicit cabaret and Burlesque shows. If you have a look at the website you’ll get a flavour and a quick look at its page on Wikipedia may pique your interest in ‘Laqueefa’.
Walking in to the club felt seedy, standing in the club felt seedy. Going to the toilet even felt seedy, as the loos are positioned near a set of stairs and an entrance that says ‘Sex’. We certainly felt a bit soiled after buying drinks too - £9.50 for a bottle of beer (less than half a pint) or £17 for a spirit and mixer anyone?
It’s obviously no surprise that Perry Farrell should choose to play here – for as long as I can remember his shows (with Janes Addiction or Porno for Pyros) have always had a bit of sleaze and cabaret associated with them, dancing girls, fire eaters and all that. So despite the toppy prices however you knew were going to get properly entertained, and that was certainly the case.
The band finally appeared at 9.30, kicking off with ‘On the Beach’ from Jane's Addictions second album ‘Nothing’s Shocking’. Most of the new album got played alongside a few more old Jane's tracks (Mountain Song, Jane Says, Stop) and a couple of Porno for Pyros tunes too (Tahitian Moon and Pets). While Etty Farrell tried in vain to keep her herself in her top, Perry Farrell (of course) prowled around the room and along the catwalk, ever the showman delighting his audience. In between the songs he plied us with his trademark banter and naturally everyone was captivated.
Naturally there was cabaret: a lady carrying a live snake round her neck and allowing it to slither around her mouth as Farrell sung close by. The same lady then disrobed into her underwear, attached herself to an overhead harness and began twirling around to Tahitian Moon. Two acrobats then did their thing, followed by another scantily clad woman who had her hands tied and was twirled around by a seedy looking bloke. Not your normal rock gig by any stretch of the imagination!
So was it worth the hefty entrance fee? I’d say so, it was a brilliant show and to cap it off right at the end Perry Farrell pointed to me and said ‘I want that shirt, that’s a great shirt’ so naturally I felt honoured! He is undoubtedly the best front man I’ve ever seen, and he has such an amazing presence on stage that you can’t help but enjoy yourself.